Boys School, Conway, Owl Fly South

Boys School

Recognized as one of the most skilled and stylistically original guitar players amongst the Los Angeles music scene, Detroit native Brett Farkas has been a major contributing force, playing for such influential artists/groups as Aaron Embry's psychedelic indie outfit, Amnion, legendary soul music icon, Solomon Burke (of whom he was nicknamed, "Cookieman") and most recently, acclaimed folk rockers, Lord Huron. After two years of heavy touring with Huron and masterminding the guitars on their breakthrough album, Farkas steps out to front Boys School, and delivers an exuberant, self-titled, debut album of sneering rock n' roll, addictive pop and thoughtful ballads.

With particular nods to early Elvis Costello, the Clash, Spoon and Harry Nilsson, and not to mention a wicked obsession for the savory sounds of the Swedish death pop supergroup, ABBA, the Boys School album clocks in at a brisk 34 minutes, yet it embodies a wide inclusiveness of inspiration - from early rock n roll, 70's glam and punk, to 90's college radio and the traditional song-smithery. Songs alternate between high charged abandon and meditative plateaus, often within the same tune, a testament to Farkas' strong belief in multi-faceted musical exploration. Lyrics navigate the pressure and release of frustration and heartbreak, coupled with wary hope and near manic longing for freedom, all snaking their way through a colorful, sometimes sunny, sometimes snarling, and often humorous landscape.

There is something undeniably, adolescently fun about Boys School, though a fun that's tempered by a very grownup sense of foreboding and a very old school appreciation of spirited musicality, especially felt in their live shows. In a an era of bands attempting to mimic their own recordings in live performance, playing along to pre-recorded tracks, Boys School takes the old road to reach new destinations.

"Musicality is being in the moment, playing the song to the means and capabilities of the group, and taking it to new places every time. And that's all that matters, that there's risk and intention behind it, energy. Nobody's gonna miss a thing if you're playing hard. And I mean "hard" not like loud and heavy, but intensely focused and giving everything that you've got."

Conway arrives with her second Columbia EP, Shut Up, already hailed as a unique and eclectic pop force with longer -term prospects on the horizon.

Rolling Stone has praised her as ‘enthralling,’ with Noisey calling the commanding title track a ‘high velocity kiss-off.’ Conway also sees it as a nod to young girls and women looking for more than the oversexualized ‘role’ models they’ve been force-fed all these years.

“The feedback I’ve been getting from them is fabulous. Stuff like ‘hey, you’re powerful and you’re strong…I wanna’ be like that,” she says. “That’s what I was like when I was a teenager. Girls need an alternative to taking off their clothes and following the boyfriend around. I feel it’s a perspective that is underrepresented when it comes to young girls.”

She also knows how to fling the truth with pop-star style and ferocity on songs like “Shut Up,” and “Attack,” while revealing a flicker of wry vulnerability on the catchy “Look At You.” Never shy in interviews when called upon, Conway is seen in a recent Fuse TV interview being asked ‘Just who are you telling to shut up?’ She didn’t’ miss a beat.

‘Wherever it applies.’

Born in St. Louis, she headed to New York City on her own after turning 17 – knowing a little about claiming one’s turf even when you’re off-grid. “I’ve always been obsessed with music,” she says. “I started every band I was ever in, even when I barely knew how to play.” She taught herself the bass and was never timid about combing the clubs and rock bars for players to join her, and maybe help perfect her chops. “If I liked the way somebody played on stage I’d try to meet them afterwards and ask if they wanted to join my band,” she laughs.

She eventually formed a band with her current drummer, Amy Wood. “She and I packed an old Honda and moved to L.A. to record because her dad had a studio. All I wanted to do was make music,” she says. “I thought I’d be there for six months.” That was 2009 and she’s still there.

The band had a lot of bark on it. “Cathartic stuff,” says Conway. “I was dealing with a lot and it was coming out raw and very emotional.”

Eventually, she decided to go solo. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and make whatever music felt good regardless of genre/style boundaries. I challenged myself to make songs that were catchy while still maintaining substance and lyrics. I let myself dance and be happy while being opinionated and sometimes funny too. I never used to allow those sides out in my music.”

She found a pair of collaborators who understood where she wanted to go with her music and began writing (her drummer is still with her too – “Best friends,” says Conway). She came up with the song “Big Talk” and, after a friend made a clip that didn’t meet her standards, she followed her instincts again and shot a video for it on her MacBook. Her homemade sauce went viral after a 1-day feature from boosted it stone-cold-out-of-the-blue, and it led to an avalanche of label interest, causing Conway to do a little more than pinch herself.

“The video was just me being goofy and creating, like how I am with close friends or by myself when no one's watching. I thought maybe I’d use 30 seconds of it in a press kit. I didn't realize people would see it and start asking about who I was.”

Her Columbia debut EP, Big Talk, followed in 2013, as did acclaimed opening spots on tours with St. Lucia and Ellie Goulding in 2014, among others. She’s also built a loyal following in London, one of her favorite cities (“love all the old buildings and parks..and the melancholy rain of course”).

She could list her influences, but says it’s all there in the music, though she doesn’t mind if you call her flair for icy transcendence, ‘art rock.’

And how about her own name, Conway?

“It’s my last name. Being in all those bands with guys – they get in the habit of calling you by your last name. Maybe it’s a sports thing – I don’t know. What can I say. I'm comfortable with it.”

Owl Fly South

Meet OWL FLY SOUTH. They are a rock and roll four-piece from UCLA who destroy brains and melt faces. Their blazing songs stare you straight in the face and don't look away until they come crashing to a close. One moment, they conjure up a storm of blistering garage rock fury. Soon after, you may find yourself floating suspended in waves of psychedelic ambient sound and noise. Moments later, you are bouncing to Beatles-esque pop fit for a summer sunset. Echoed vocals, sweet mellotrons, fuzzy guitars, and pummeling drums combine to create Owl Fly South's powerful rock and roll. In general, the music harkens back to the vintage vinyl sounds of the 60s and 70s, with the more free elements of modern music. These tunes are aimed skyward.


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